USA’s Total Fertility Rates by Race, 1980-2008


This graph has been updated with the newest data through 2013, here:
USA’s Total Fertility Rates by Race, 1980-2013

Also a post on the 1980-2010 data with good comments.



USA’s Total Fertility Rates (TFR), by Race of Mother, 1980s-2000s. (Click Graph to Expand)

White fertility rate:
A caveat: Race-fertility calculations in the USA are based on race of mother. One must remember that by the late 2000s, ~10% of the babies born to American White women were fathered by Nonwhite men. The American ‘White-White’ TFR would thus be ~1.65 in the late 2000s. (White-[Female-]Fertility (x) Share of those births to White fathers = 1.85* 0.9)

Assuming a 2.1 TFR rate of replacement, a population with a sustained 1.65 TFR would produce a child-generation 78.6% as large as the parent generation. This means, every three generations or so, the population is cut in half.

The Death of Communism and American Fertility
Compare the TFRs of 1986 with those of 1990. Now, ask yourself, what was different in the world?

I have speculated that there was a swelling of ‘civilizational pride’ in the USA (and its satellites) that began sometime in the late-1980s, because of a seemingly-imminent Western victory in the Cold War. My conjecture was that such a thing would explain why both abortion and crime would have declined concurrently around that time. Both crime and abortion can be looked at as anti-social manifestations of nihilism, which we would to fall away as ‘civilizational pride’ swells. The fact that there was also a mini baby boom in the period straddling the “Fall of the Wall” seems to support this. People would be more likely to want to start families if they feel this kind of pride, surely.

It’s definitely an intriguing theory. What else could explain the “mini baby boom” in this period, seen among all racial groups? Although Nonwhite fertility began to decline in 1991, the ‘Death-of-Communism Baby-Boomlet’, which lifted White fertility by 15% (from its 1980s-doldrums, mind you), never abated. White fertility remained at 1990 levels on through the 2000s. (Technically, this would not be a ‘boom’ for Whites, then, but rather just a plain-old ‘rise’).

Observations, Questions, Speculations
(1) If you disagree with my ‘Death-of-Communism civilizational pride’ hypothesis above, what could explain why USA fertility jumped at the time?

(2) Sub-Replacement Non-Hispanics: No racial group in the USA has been naturally-replacing itself (which requires a 2.1 TFR in a modern society) from the mid-1990s and on through the late 2000s, except Hispanics.

(3) As remarked upon above, White fertility, which had been in a slump through the 1970s and 1980s, recovered to ~1.85 by the early 1990s. It remained remarkably stable at ~1.85 through the 1990s and 2000s. Comparisons to Europe suggest that American White women are significantly outbreeding some of their cousins on the old Continent.

(3) I don’t understand why American-Indian fertility fell. They went from being the most-fertile group in the early ’80s to the least-fertile by the early 2000s. (~2.2 to ~1.75).

(4) Why was there a Hispanic “mini baby boom” in the mid-2000s? (Peaking at 3.00 in 2007). [Edit: This has been answered in the comments].

(5) Why did the Asian fertility trend swing from years of steady decline, below 1.8 in the late 1990s, to nearly replacement level (over 2.0) by the late 2000s? A solid ~15% rise in a decade.

(6) What turned around the Black fertility trends? Historically, we all know, Black fertility was always much-higher than White fertility. Black fertility declined from 1990-2002, and it then looked like Black and White TFRs might even-out by decade’s end. This did not happen, though, and the Bush-Jr. years saw a recovery back to positive-natural-growth territory. Why?

Data Source
This is the latest data available from the CDC (the official agency in the USA recording this information), released in late 2010. “National Vital Statistics Report: Births Final Data for 2008“. Tables 4 and 8 used. [Warning: this is a large pdf].

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26 Responses to USA’s Total Fertility Rates by Race, 1980-2008

  1. Steve Sailer says:

    “Why the Hispanic “mini baby boom” of the mid-2000s? (Peaking at 3.00 in 2007).”

    Subprime mortgages and the housing bubble. Affordable family formation in action.

  2. Hail says:

    RE Stever Sailer: You may be right. It is curious that all racial groups (except whites and American-Indians) show an upturn in TFR from ~2002, about when the “Drang Nach 100% Minority Homeownership” picked up in earnest(?).

    If the connection is valid, then Bush was:
    1.) Funding a baby-boom for all but the citizens who supported him,
    2.) Helping drive the USA (and the world?) to recession.

    And they said Moscow had poor, unsustainable socioeconomic policy in the ’70s and ’80s!

  3. ren says:

    I rather want to make a point on another thing. Even without Hispanic immigration, America will be Hispanic “soon”. And many if not most groups have not assimilated to the American “Anglo ethos” that immigrants from Europe have so readily adapted to. There’s Puerto Ricans and Mexicans who have lived in the barrios of New York and Los Angeles for generations.

    This lack of assimilation doesn’t affect the American economic situation at present, as Hispanics usually feed the lower end of the work force needed to run any advanced economy. But one wonders at what point a threshold is passed that the weight of Hispanic demographics starts swathes of America into Mexico, as America starts transforming into a “Latin economy”.

    Reminder, I have no ill feelings towards Hispanics. I love them as much as I love Whites, but that’s not saying much. Actually, I may prefer Hispanics over Whites. Have to ponder on that to really find my preference.]

    • Hail says:

      ren wrote:
      Even without Hispanic immigration, America will be Hispanic “soon”

      The graph above proves you right (presuming all trends as depicted there stay the same). “Demographics is Destiny”.

      200 million whites @ 1.8 TFR
      50 million Hispanics @ 2.8 TFR

      Year 2100 (after three generations)
      127 million whites
      118 million Hispanics

      That is a zero-migration scenario (and admittedly an overly-simplified one), with sustained TFRs as seen in the graph above.

    • Hail says:

      “Demographics is Destiny”

      Back in 1810 — pardon the digression — in 1810, no one would have thought France would “soon” be a second-rate power, and that Prussia [or its successor state, i.e. Germany] would be the strongest power in Europe. Yet, for whatever reason, French fertility declined in the post-Napoleonic era, while the Germans’ soared. By the time a young Nietzsche started pondering philosophy, there were more German-speakers than French-speakers in Europe. The first time that could ever be said. By the early 1900s, there were far more German-speakers.

      This is one of the neglected facts about why the “Great War” broke out in 1914. Honest scholarship in the 1920s, poring through diplomatic dispatches and other primary sources relating to the July Crisis, showed that it was a nervous France that pushed things beyond “the point of no return” in the West. (Russia’s call to mobilization did in in the East; Imperial-Germany’s idiocy didn’t help anything all along the way).

      There is a direct connection between July 1914 and the previous decades’ fertility trends.

      • Rollory says:

        “Yet, for whatever reason, French fertility declined in the post-Napoleonic era, ”

        It was Napoleon’s doing. Under the Ancien Regime, the standard was for the oldest son to inherit everything. He made the new default be that estates be split equally among all the heirs. The result is that hving many kids means each one gets less. If you want your children to be prosperous, you have few – whereas under the old system, you don’t woirry about it; the oldest gets it all and the others go off to seek their fortune.

        The wisdom of Salic Law runs deep.

        • Anonymous says:

          That argues that parents willing to have several poor kids under one law would suddenly stop having kids under a more lenient law out of fear of their kids being poor, even though the individual child would be less poor as before.

      • Hail says:

        RE Rollory: I have addressed this further here:

        Why Did French Fertility Collapse in the 1800s?

        Your argument has an attractiveness to it, but how can it explain fertility decline among even the poor, those not dealing in passing on estates? (Please reply in that thread).

  4. Justin says:

    Could the fall in all of those measures simply be the effect of smaller birth cohorts 20 years previous?

  5. Hail says:

    RE Justin,

    Which fall(s) are you talking about exactly?

    As an answer to “Could [any trends here] be artifacts of lower numbers of young women?” The short answer is No.
    The long answer: If this were the crude birth rate, then yes, that could explain certain trends. Crude birth rate is [Births]/[Total Population] — Crude Birth Rate is artificially-low if 20 to 25 years ago there was a dip in births. (E.g. because of a major war).

    What is graphed here is the Fertility Rate (CDC data), which requires more information to calculate. Fertility Rate divides total births by total number of women aged 15-44. So in the things in the manner you allude to.

    The “Total Fertility Rate” (TFR) is a method of expressing the fertility rate in the simplest possible manner: The expected number of lifetime births to each woman if that year’s fertility trends were to exist forever.

    • Justin says:

      Sorry, I guess my reply belonged in the previous post. You were looking for the factor that could explain both the fall in crime and abortion at the end of the Cold War. I am suggesting it is not a function of “cultural confidence” or whatever, it is just a function of less young people, because of the declining number of births, post 1970.

  6. Pingback: Why did French fertility collapse in the 1800s? | Hail To You

  7. Pingback: Why did French fertility collapse in the 1800s? | Hail To You

  8. Hail says:

    A swelling of ‘civilizational pride’ in the USA that began sometime in the late-1980s [caused fertility to rise]

    I was reminded of this hypothesis by a recent Mangan post, which pointed to a study of women’s vs. men’s happiness in the USA and EU over the past four decades.

    Here is the USA’s graph:
    American men’s happiness was indeed highest in the late 1980s.
    American Women’s happiness trends are erratic, all over the place really, with no distinct peak but rather a general downward trend. (They also had a “happiness bounce” in the late ’80s, though).

    Some might point out that American happiness was declining by 1990, already, which does not fit with the hypothesis. To that I would say that ‘happiness’ and what I called above ‘civilizational pride’, though surely related, are not identical. Remember that the USA had a recession in the early 1990s, which would affect superficial self-reported happiness (as measured above), but perhaps not ‘civilizational pride’ as much.

    The same data for the EU show the same trend more dramatically:
    A distinct wave of happiness befell Western-Europeans from 1988-1992.

  9. Pingback: Dysgenic Fertility Trends in Generation X? | Hail To You

  10. Fertility says:

    Pregnancy comes with issues which can be worrisome; be it complications, cramps, emotional changes, physical changes or something similar. These fears probably caused decline in fertility.

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  12. Pingback: Western Civilizational Pride, 1986-1992 | Hail To You

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